Zimbabwe trophy hunting, crocodile farming help rural poor adapt


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Oct 1, 2007
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Zimbabwe trophy hunting, crocodile farming help rural poor adapt

CHIREDZI, 29 June 2011 (IRIN) - The mostly dry Chiredzi district in southeastern Zimbabwe will grow drier as rainfall becomes increasingly uncertain, but trophy hunting and rearing crocodiles for their meat and skins can become major money earners to help rural households overcome poverty while adapting to climate change.

In one of several initiatives under a project backed by the UN and government, elephants, warthogs, giraffes, buffaloes and impala - a type of antelope - are kept in an area measuring about 7,000 square kilometres and sold to trophy hunters licensed by the government in cooperation with the district authorities, while the community gets free meat from the slain animals.

"The project is now well established and the beneficiaries are building a school and a clinic from the money they receive from the sale of the animals," said Leonard Unganyi, who manages the project run jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the government-controlled Environment Management Agency (EMA). "They have also bought a truck and set up a grain-grinding mill to benefit the community."

He said the project, which helps communities cope with drought and climate change, would be replicated in other parts of the country because 90 percent of Zimbabwean farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture and are struggling to become food secure.

Using revenue from community-based trophy hunting initiatives to generate income for sustainable development activities is not unusual. In the late 1990s, Pakistan pioneered development of the Community Based Trophy Hunting Programme (CBTHP), according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Pakistan runs several such projects, some in collaboration with UN and nature conservation agencies.

Finding sources of income to build the resilience of poor rural communities to erratic rainfall in Zimbabwe’s troubled economy is a tall order.

"Chiredzi district, which has always been vulnerable to drought, is one of the many areas countrywide that have been affected by climate change. Households have been severely affected by rainfall distribution, resulting in poor harvests," said UNDP-EMA's Unganyi.

Susan Chivambu agreed. "There were hardly any rains to talk about in the last agricultural season and my family only managed to produce a few bags of maize. Very soon that will be gone and we will have to scrounge for food, just like we have done in the last three years."

Her family has been forced to sell some of their livestock every year. "Even though we have a garden, we cannot sell the vegetables because there is no one to buy," she said. Two goats she would be taking to the market for the fortnightly sale were tethered to a nearby tree.

"Adaptation to climate change is a fairly new phenomenon in Zimbabwe," said Unganyi. "There is a need for policies and strategies that empower affected local communities."

Tapping into another lucrative market, 300 households in Chilonga village in Chiredzi district have set up a cooperative crocodile farming project, now in its second year and close to becoming profitable. Each member contributes to the food and upkeep of the crocodiles.

The villagers have benefited from infrastructure left behind by a white commercial farmer, including ponds, incubators and boilers. William Tonono, a member of the crocodile project, told IRIN that they were rearing 880 crocodiles, some of which were ready for market.

"Even though we still have problems raising money to buy food and medicines for the crocodiles, we hope that when we sell our first batch, money problems will be a thing of the past," said Tonono. Zimbabwe’s export earnings from crocodile meat and skins are worth millions of dollars. A skin 40cm wide is valued at US$9 per centimetre, according to Padenga, a Zimbabwean company that trades in skins. UNDP-EMA will help the cooperative to market their produce.

"Our aim is to make sure that the money we realise from this project will be enough to provide our family needs, but judging by our progress, we will be able to buy cars in the near future," Tonono said.

Another initiative gives rural residents an alternative to dependence on their dwindling livestock. Families where Chivambu lives have been organized into clubs that breed fish in the nearby Masukwe Dam. They hope to harvest the first batch of fish by the end of 2011.

Cassava and hardier grains

Other families have been given the option of farming hardier crops like cassava, and small grains like sorghum and millet which thrive in dry conditions, but the results have been mixed.

Evelyn Hanyani’s cassava crop thrived and she hopes to sell some of the produce to support her family of 15, but her sorghum crop performed poorly, partly because of long dry spell in February 2011.

"We cook the cassava every morning and use it as a substitute for bread,” she said. We also grind it to prepare flour for bread, and sometimes use the ground powder in the place of maize-meal and pick the leaves to use as vegetables."

Her neighbour, Tsotsowani Makondo, 40, a mother of nine, opted to grow small grains. "Despite the drought in the area this year, I am happy with my yields. My family will not die of hunger because I harvested enough sorghum and millet to last me ‘til next year," Makondo told IRIN.

Her children are not used to eating millet and sorghum instead of Zimbabwe’s staple food, maize-meal, so she sells some of her produce to buy maize.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET) notes in its report on Zimbabwe in June 2011 that staple cereals are readily available nationally, but prices are higher than the same time in 2010. Predominantly rural districts like Chiredzi have not shown improved sources of income for poor households compared to a year ago.

The districts of Chiredzi, Buhera, Mangwe, Bikita, and Mutare reported the highest maize grain prices in Zimbabwe. FEWS-NET said the trend was likely to continue to 2012 because of the poor harvests in these areas. "This means access challenges for the poor households in the areas of concern will have worsened, and more households will be food insecure."

Source: IRIN

This is a Huge parcel of land for the association...many small villages...

You have ranches and Many Large farms with terraced planted blocks with many sections that are near the rivers and large earth dams with irrigation or pivot irrigation. The area i looked at by satellite was probably 80 miles wide and 20 to 30 deep at places...you can see fenced areas and open areas that i could not make out any fences.

They have airports and many roads

IT looks like 3 rivers in the block, Runde, Chiredzi & Mutirjkwi...
Interesting article.

Too dry to farm but anough water for a crocodile farm? Before the 2001 farm take overs I thought Chiredzi was a productive farming area? They grew sugar cane that requires a substantial amount of water.

Does the 7000 Square Kilometer area mentioned in the story include the Save?

The villagers have benefited from infrastructure left behind by a white commercial farmer, including ponds, incubators and boilers.

This is the story of the farmer who left 20 Million USD behind, not on his free will. Where was the UN and the IRIN when this was happening?

Chiredzi crocodile farmer ordered to leave | The Zimbabwe Situation - Zimbabwe News updated daily

CHIREDZI – Digby Nesbit, a Chiredzi commercial farmer and businessman, was
on Wednesday ordered to leave his farm by November 22 after he was convicted
of failing to vacate his Crocodile Farm.

The farm was acquired by the government for resettlement.

The farmer was also ordered to pay a fine of US$200 or serve 10 days in
prison for the same offence.

In a 150-page judgement, magistrate Enias Magate also advised Nesbit to
remove his 8 000 crocodiles from the property by February 15.

Magate, who is a beneficiary of President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land
reform programme, said that the law was very clear on government acquired
properties. He said that once a farm has been acquired by government the
owner should leave the property to pave the way for the new beneficiaries.

Nesbit was popular for assisting the local community of Chiredzi, prompting
senior Zanu-PF officials, including politburo members, to strongly oppose
his eviction.

During the three-month long trial, Zanu-PF members openly told the court
that they were against the farmers’ eviction adding that as political
leaders they had agreed that productive farmers such as Nesbit should be
spared from eviction.

One of the witnesses, Selina Pote, a Zanu-PF politburo member, told the
court that she was shocked to hear that anyone would want to evict Nesbit.

“We agreed as political leaders that productive white farmers like Nesbit
should stay put because they are of benefit to the nation”, Pote told the
court during trial.

Other Zanu-PF members who also testified in support of Nesbit are former
governor Willard Chiwewe, and politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire.

Nesbit told the court during trial that he would only move out of the farm
if he was paid compensation to the tune of US$20 million for the
developments he made on the property.

Crocodile Farm specializes in sugar cane production in addition to a
thriving crocodile project from which it derives its name.

The state, led by Tawanda Zvekare, argued that Nesbit had no legal right to
remain on an acquired piece of land, hence he should be evicted.

The state further argued that if Nesbit was allowed to remain the whole land
reform programme would become chaotic as other farmers would also want to
retain their properties.

Nesbit, who was represented by Rodney Makausi of Chihambakwe and Makonese
legal practitioners, did not appeal against both conviction and sentence.

Nesbit joins several commercial farmers who were pushed off their land by
government under a controversial land acquisition programme.

Nesbit will give way to the officer commanding Matebeleland North Province,
senior assistant commissioner Edmore Veterai who invaded the property
despite being advised by Zanu-PF leaders in Masvingo no
t to do so.

In the past I have written about my friend that I have known since 1969. While her husband was away their property near Chiredzi was stolen. A gun was put to her head and she was brought to a police station. While she was born and raised in the States her husband is 5th generation Rhodesian. Where was the UN and the IRIN when this was happening?
It's nice to hear a different perspective on the subject. Thanks, Mike

I know 2 nice outfitters that have gone under because of Mugabe and their farms have been stolen too. Countless black rhino and sable....among other animals have disappeared in Zimbabwe in the last 10 years...it's a crying shame.

Glad the UN is taking care of the problem...irony and sarcasm.
I met these people on a visit to Zimbabwe in 1995 and 1997. They had a thriving operation, and yes, the Mugabe regime stole it. My heart goes out to them.
This report even mentions the Save. I know for a fact the majority of the Save is still well managed and teaming with game, however there are areas within the conservancy that are resettled by "war vets" that are devoid of any wildlife. These same people attempt to poach other areas.

If the operators are ever completely pushed out of the Save it will be wasteland, not just have a poaching problem.

I am anxiuos to see what the crocodile farm (from the above article) will look like in a couple of years.

Zim environmental group warns of serious poaching threat
SW Radio Africa - Zimbabwe News

By Alex Bell
25 July 2011

A wildlife and conservation group in Zimbabwe has warned that poaching is
reaching critical levels, which threatens not only the welfare of the
country’s wildlife, but also future tourism.

The Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) group said that wildlife areas
in the South East Lowveld are under serious threat, including the Gonarezhou
National Park, Manjinji Bird Sanctuary, Chipinge and Malapati Safari Areas,
Bubiana, Chiredzi River, Save and Malilangwe conservancies. These all make
up part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area, which is the
world’s largest interregional conservation park.

The WEZ said serious poaching is taking place in the areas, with elephants
being killed for ivory, rhinos for the horns and lions, zebra, leopards and
cheetahs all being killed for their skins. The group said this is all
commercial poaching and if it is not prevented quickly “we can right off
wildlife in the Lowveld and we should forget about our participation in the
Great Limpopo Transfrontier tourism.”

The same area is also under serious threat from people who are invading the
conservation areas and killing the elephants and antelopes for meat. The WEZ
said that people are also killing lions and crocodiles because they are
viewed as “pests.”

“They are clearing vegetations for crops such as maize and cotton but the
areas under wildlife are not suitable for cropping and are not good for
cattle ranching as well,” the WEZ said.

The group said: “WEZ appeals to the powers that be to help remove these
people and help them by settling in suitable areas where they can do their

The group added that it has appealed to the Ministries of Environment and
Tourism to intervene, before wildlife in the area goes extinct.

“WEZ is prepared to help The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority with
anti- poaching operations and supplying the intelligent information related
to poaching but for WEZ to do this we request Government to re-establish the
positions of honorary Park officers or warden. Those involved will operate
knowing that they are operating legally within the parameters of the Parks
and Wildlife Act and with the authority derived from the Minister in charge
of Wildlife and Environment,” the group said.
Of course I suppose it is easier to be profitable if you are "given" the fixed assets which have been stolen from the guy who originally paid for them.

Having said which I hope it does well.

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